The Byronian Cafe in Jonson Street which may make way for a new cafe and Parisian-style lounge bar.
The Byronian Cafe in Jonson Street which may make way for a new cafe and Parisian-style lounge bar.

Bunfight over development

ON one side the multi-millionaire developer who has called Byron Bay Council ‘a bunch of morons’.

On the other, the council and Byron Bay pedestrians who may be caught in a stoush that could see them dodging delivery vans on a busy stretch of Jonson Street.

Eddie Phillips – nicknamed the ‘Spa King’ because he made a substantial amount of his fortune in the gym/spaindustry – said he first put in a plan to the council three years ago to turn 58 Jonson Street into a three-storey commercial and residential development.

Currently the site holds the Byronian Cafe and two boutiques and Mr Phillips owns the building.

He wants to redevelop it with a new cafe downstairs and a Parisian-style lounge bar on the first floor.

“It won’t be a doof door bar,” he said. “It will be something Byron-style for the over-30s.”

But while “friends of the council can fly through the application at mate’s pace”, he said he was still waiting for council to process his application for the $5 million development.

Not only that, fumed Mr Phillips, but the council has just put ‘the worst case scenario’ on public exhibition, where it will stay until Wednesday.

“I want rear lane access like other businesses in the area, but council is forcing me to put a garage door on the front of the building and load deliveries across the footpath.”

This would be a disaster for the busy area, warned Mr Phillips, who said he had tendered an alternative DA, not on show, that included plans for rear access.

Numerous attempts failed to confirm with the council that the plan on display showed front access, or that the council had forced this option on Mr Phillips.

But Alan Mitchell, who drew up the plans and who has worked in the Byron Shire area for 25 years, said it did indeed show front access, although rear access would be preferred.

“We were told at a meeting with council this year that front access was our only approvable option, even though it was a poor planning option.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “Other businesses in the street have access from the back lane.”

However, it seems Mr Phillips may not be the only one who doesn’t know whether he will be coming or going.

In a statement to The Northern Star, Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of planning, Ray Darney, said it was not appropriate from a planning perspective to take access across the front footpath in Jonson Street

Regarding rear access, he said land at the back of the proposed development was community land and currently operates as a community car park.

“Community land is constrained by the Local Government Act provisions and requires a plan of management.”

He said this and a number of key issues regarding the development still needed to be resolved.

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